Less than three weeks after the Riverhead Farmers Market kicked off on East Main Street, it’s already outgrown its space. By far.
“We have a waiting list of 60 vendors,” said Ray Pickersgill, president of the Business Improvement District, and one of the key organizers in the weekend market — along with Community Development Director Christine Kempner and Browder’s Birds proprietor Holly Browder.
Beyond looking for excess space, Mr. Pickersgill — co-owner of downtown’s Robert James Salon — said at Wednesday night’s BID meeting that he’s hoping to extend the market with the help of the two.
“If we could continue it all year, there are enough farmers who are looking to do it,” Mr. Pickersgill said.
While the BID has hosted a farmers market in the past on Saturdays, Mr. Pickersgill said on Thursday that having Ms. Browder on board, as a member of the Long Island Farm Bureau, has been key in gaining momentum for this season’s winter market, which is expected to wrap up in mid-May.
The market got its legs after Ms. Kempner ran into her old neighbor, Ms. Browder. The poultry farmer told Ms. Kempner that the winter market she went to previously, in Sag Harbor, had shut down this season. Coordinating with Mr. Pickersgill, it didn’t take long until they got enough vendors to fill out a market in downtown Riverhead.
Held at 117 East Main St. each Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the market currently hosts 30 vendors in the 8,000-square-foot building downtown that previously housed Swezey’s department store.
The BID is paying $3,000 for 18 weeks in the current location. The building next to it, which was once Swezey’s, is owned by Eli Mizrahi, who is seeking $8,000, Mr. Pickersgill said, indicating that they can’t afford that.
Also at Wednesday night’s meeting, members of the BID management association said that — after first bringing the idea up in 2011 — they are still pursuing putting a skating rink downtown.
Mr. Pickersgill floated the idea of making the rink a pavilion, adding that sliding glass panels and heaters on the ceiling could be installed in the winter to host the farmers market